How I Got Into Natural Healing
How It All Started
(Abram Hoffer, M.D.)
It was either the shots or the blood.
Since the earliest I can remember, going to the doctor meant getting a needle in the rear end. When I was a preschooler, our family doctor seemed genuinely old. He had been a general practitioner for thirty years or so before I went to him. As soon as I could read, I noticed that his ancient medical degree dated from the 1920's. His methods were not refined. He gave me what he thought was a smile, had my parents forcibly flip me upside down onto his worn, paper-covered black leather examination table, and jab me in the keester. I couldn't have been thinking too deeply at that age, but evidently the impression those hypodermic needles made on me were deep in more ways than one. Somewhere in the back of my mind it seemed that there must be more to medicine than silver-colored instruments and pain.
While in high school, I looked, and occasionally acted, like the type of kid who would someday be a doctor. Combine skinniness, eyeglasses, honor society, and graduating two or three years ahead of my class, and you might just expect that. I was the kid who could cut up anything in biology class and dissect toads, bullheads and fetal pigs at home on Saturdays. I turned my bedroom into a chemistry lab. I started a science club at school and attended future physicians' seminars. Once, at a meeting of the local medical society, we watched a movie showing some surgical operations. From the first foot-long incision, I knew I had a problem. During small group discussions, I lightly asked if anyone had ever become a doctor who could not stand the sight of (human) blood. The responding doctor said, politely smiling, that rather few had done so.
During my second and
third years in college I arranged to observe surgery at various
hospitals. This seemed like a good way to overcome my aversion to
slicing into a live person. It took over two hours by bus to get to see
my first operation at the then small hospital in
She quietly said, "You're not the doctor, are you?"
"No, ma'am," I answered.
"Oh, good!" she said, and closed her eyes, smiling.
I had brought comfort on my very first day.
When they gave her anesthetic, she was asked to count backwards from one hundred. She never made it to 99. I managed the opening incision, saw that fat was bright orange, and the lump proved benign. Afterwards, I was offered coffee by every single person in the doctors' lounge. Maybe that was out of courtesy, but I think word got around and they thought I needed the caffeine.
I knew now that I could handle an inch-long incision without passing out. From there, I watched more extensive operations at larger hospitals. One procedure is particularly memorable. Another elderly woman was in for an adrenalectomy. I was told that this was to help relieve her severe arthritis pain. Having by now seen enough abdomens opened up, I watched with well concealed surprise as the operating team turned her over and made really generous cuts at the level of the lowest rib. It then occurred to me that, of course, this was the shortest route to the kidneys on which the adrenal glands are perched. The kidneys are each protected by ribs. I waited for the rib-spreaders next. In a stainless-steel flash, the chief surgeon instead produced the largest pair of tin snips I have ever seen. By "tin snips" I mean those massive metal-cutting scissors that would cut through a Buick.
Oh, no, he's not really going to...
Yes, as a matter of fact he was.
"CRUNCH!" Those were the genuinely loud sounds of human ribs being cut. The lady's body shook with each cut. Oh well, I thought, they'll put them back when they're done. They didn't. The ribs were removed, casually placed in a pan, and that was the last of them. The adrenals were easily removed after that.
You might think that right then and there I'd immediately begin a passionate search for a painless, natural cure for arthritis. No, for I could now better stand the incisions and the blood, and I wanted to be a doctor.
It was Professor John I. Mosher at the State University of New York College at Brockport who first asked me to reconsider what "being a doctor" actually meant. Was it about being the M.D. in the white coat, or was it about really helping people get well? It was a good point, and I largely ignored it. After all, I already assumed that it was essential to be a medical doctor in order to do healing. Weren't chiropractors, dentists, optometrists and other professionals just helpers? I wanted to be one of the guys at the TOP of the health heap!
Dr. Mosher told me to read a book, The Pattern of Health (now out of print), by an English physician named Aubrey T. Westlake, M.D. It changed everything. Dr. Westlake wrote of his long experience as a practitioner. He said that during his professional life, he had mostly been engaged in "bailing out leaking boats." I followed Dr. Westlake's narrative with increasing fascination as he described his search for real healing. He ended up WAY outside of conventional medicine. Herbology, homeopathy, naturopathy... these approaches were utterly new to me. Yet Dr. Westlake, a fully qualified doctor of medicine, saw value in these unorthodox treatments. I could not simply disregard them. This man just did not seem to be a complete idiot.
I began to think that there was something to these natural healing methods after all.
That, of course, was only the beginning. The really subversive thing about reading books is that each good one leads to many others. So it was with me. If there wasn't yet a medical blacklist or "Index" listing all health heresy in print, I think I came reasonably close to creating one during college and graduate school. I read Medical Nemesis, by Dr. Ivan Illich, Who is Your Doctor and Why, by Alonzo J. Shadman, M.D., and dozens of research papers reprinted by the former Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Works of Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Abram Hoffer, Drs. Wilfred and Evan Shute, Dr. Paavo Airola, Dr. Ewan Cameron, Dr. Richard Passwater, Dr. Robert Mendelssohn, Dr. Roger J. Williams, Dr. Edward Bach and many other respected scientists eventually persuaded me that natural healing was not only valid but was generally superior to conventional drug-and-surgery medicine.
As an undergraduate, I
spent a year studying at the
Around this time I tried fasting. Not on myself, of course, but on my dog. It happened that the dog developed quite a fever and curled up in a corner of the dining room all day and night. I checked with the vet, and he said that it was not dangerous to leave the dog to itself, so I did. That dog stayed curled up in that corner for three days. It moved only for water and to go outside for bathroom purposes. The dog ate nothing at all during those three days. It slept, and I watched. On the fourth day, the dog got up and was its own doggy self again. The fever was gone, and it was generally as if nothing was ever wrong.
This got me thinking.
Not long afterwards I got sick. Real sick. Sick enough that neighbors stopped by to check on me. I began to fast, basically duplicating what my dog had done with the exception that I did not sleep in the corner. (I also did not use the outdoors for excretory purposes). To my dull-headed surprise, I was comfortable eating nothing. All I wanted were liquids and sleep. The illness was over quickly, without any medicines. The result was good, but it was the process by which I'd gotten better that really intrigued me. This sounds odd, but while fasting I'd felt the best I had ever felt while feeling bad. Certainly I had been very ill, yet this simple cure was completely satisfactory. Hmm.
I continued with my informal postgraduate study in naturopathy. This kept me reading more and more books on natural healing written by experienced doctors. These physicians treated extremely serious diseases with fasting, diet, herbs, homeopathy, minerals and vitamins. I finally began taking a natural multiple vitamin every day, and continued to live alone, work and further my education.
From reading we can soak up many facts but it is having children that really tests our knowledge. Exams and theses on one hand, babies on the other. Raising a family provides plenty of opportunity to see whether an idea is any good or not. Marriage and kids showed me that nature-cure works. It is simple, safe, economical, and effective. Of course, we've all been told that anything easy, cheap and harmless cannot possibly be any good.
That's what I had thought, too. Ever since those first injections in the rump.
It turns out that the natural therapeutics are as good or better than allopathic (drug-based) medicine. During my bouts with pneumonia, experience showed me that Erythromycin will not cure it as fast as high-dose vitamin C therapy will. My father once had angina and an irregular heartbeat. He eliminated all symptoms by taking quite a lot of vitamin E each day. He found that the vitamin works better than the prescriptions he'd been taking, and doesn't have the side effects, either. (His complete story is posted at http://www.doctoryourself.com/angina.html )
Outside my family, I have seen "hopeless" cases turn around with natural therapy: impending blindness reversed, multiple sclerosis improved from wheelchair to walker, mental illness ended, hip replacements posponed for twenty pain-free years, malignancies shrunken, immune systems restored, severe arthritis eliminated, all these and many more; all cured without drugs.
After you see this happen again and again it begins to reach you: these truly are simple, safe, economical, and effective natural treatments. And, they work on real diseases.
Does health have to hurt and cost a fortune? Are blood and drugs prerequisites for healing? Is a hospital really the best place for getting better? Have medical doctors cornered the market on healing knowledge? Is nature-cure a lot of hooey?
Don't you believe it. Instead, see for yourself. Read a few of those books at the health food store. Change your diet. Next time you are sick, try a natural alternative instead. Find out for yourself. That's what I did, and it has worked.
And that is how I got into natural healing.
Copyright 1999 and prior years by Andrew W. Saul. Revisions copyright 2018. Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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